This week, Theme Park Rangers Radar drops onto the second floor of Universal CityWalk for a look-see and a sip at Cursed Coconut Club, a limited-time, darkish, Mardi-Gras-ish experience. Then, once the haze has passed, there’s math to be done concerning Tron Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom.
Radar is a weekly roundup of theme park shifts and shenanigans. It appears on OrlandoSentinel.com on Wednesdays.
The Red Coconut Club has had another personality change. This time, the Universal CityWalk is presenting itself as the Cursed Coconut Club during Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration.
Visitors are catching on now that the venue has been through its Dead Coconut phase (coinciding with Halloween Horror Nights) and a Green and Red Coconut overlay during the winter holiday season.
Basically, Universal has been theming up a pop-up lounge experience in a space that had been dormant since the pandemic shutdown began in March 2020.
The looks are created by the same team for the themed and oh-so-browsable Tribute Store inside Universal Studios theme park.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while. How do we do this other places? Is there more to it than just Tribute?” said Rob Cametti, director of visual merchandising and store design.
“It’s a whole different experience than Tribute. This is more energetic and active,” he said.
During Mardi Gras, some people come to the club on the upper level of CityWalk before the nightly parade and return for a nightcap, Cametti said.
“A lot of the stuff that we do is handmade. Like, a lot of these skulls that you see around were hand-sculpted by our team and hand-painted,” he said.
“We love to bring them back, and a lot of people notice them. ‘Oh, that was used in Tribute Store,’ and sometimes in Tribute Store they’ll say ‘Oh, that was used in a [HHN] house. I remember seeing that,’” Cametti said. “I think it gives something for people to kind of discover. For the Green and Red, we had a pickle game upstairs.”
It’s a shade grittier this season. One enters the building through a New Orleans-style over-ground graveyard, and inside there’s voodoo action.
“We went kind of dark here, and I asked the team to go a little darker upstairs,” Cametti said. “There are more potion bottles and artifacts and weird things in jars that you’ll look around and be like ‘What is in there? What are they saving or preserving?’ So it is a little grittier up there.”
There’s a bar up there in the darkness (and a balcony overlooking CityWalk) and well as two bars downstairs and a dance floor. The drinks-only menu includes specialty cocktails with names like Bayou Thunder, Scarlet Veve, Cafe Brulot Diabolique and Voodoo Bijou. There are mocktails and beers, too. A Cursed Coconut gift shop is outside and to the right of the entrance.
Expect Cursed Coconut Club to linger through the end of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration, which wraps April 16. Its operating hours are 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
All this “it’s fun, but it’s over fast” chatter about Tron Lightcycle / Run, the upcoming roller coaster now in previews at Magic Kingdom, got me thinking about rail length.
That is just one factor in ride time, of course, with speed being another biggie. But ride time can be squishy. Do we start the clock once forward movement begins? When do we stop?
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This is perilously close to math, so let’s stick with a straight-up listing after this burning question: If the Tron rail is 3,169 feet as stated on the Roller Coaster Data Base, where does that put it in a ranking, by length, of Orlando roller coasters? (Insert “Jeopardy” think music here.)
We’ll start from the top. The longest coaster rail in town title belongs to Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride, which debuted last year. It’s 5,577.4 feet, according to RCDB.
It’s followed by Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure (5,053 feet), SeaWorld Orlando’s Mako (4,760), IOA’s Jurassic World VelociCoaster (4,700), SeaWorld’s Kraken (4,177), Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (3,884.5), Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios (3,800), Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (3,267.7) and Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain (3,186 or 3,196 feet, depending on which side you’re riding).
Which brings us to Tron, which will be No. 10 on the list at 3,169. It will be edged out by its spacey neighbor when the ride opens to the public April 4.
Oh, and No. 11 will be Pipeline, which is under construction at SeaWorld Orlando and set to open this spring. Its rail is 2,950 feet long. Not that anyone’s been on Pipeline yet, but it’s a little surprising that it measures longer than Magic Kingdom’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (2,780 feet), which usually feels like a long ride.
Other surprises: White Lightning, the wooden coaster at Fun Spot America’s Orlando location is a hair longer than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom (2,032 versus 2,001.3). And there’s very little rail data on Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios. Several sources list its length as “2 minutes” but I found no measurement in feet. Any guesses?
- Enchanted Tales With Belle, an interactive storytelling production in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, is back on the schedule. The attraction had been shuttered since the pandemic shutdown began in March 2020.
- Disney PhotoPass photographers are now outfitted in bright green shirts, a move away from the long-held khaki look. The fabric is easy to spot and made of recycled material.
- The Epcot auto plaza’s redesign has been completed, dovetailing with the parking lot’s recent touch-up. Expect to see the futuristic Epcot font that has spread across the theme park during its transformation.
What’s on your radar? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.